The following article appeared in the Los Angeles Times on May 8, 2018.
Attending a music festival is a dream for many. They promise excitement, trendy photos, great music and an amazing social outlet. From Stagecoach to Day and Night, there is an exciting festival for all music lovers.
Among the various music festivals is one of the most well known and highly sought after events: Coachella. This year, Coachella had incredible headliners such as Beyoncé, Cardi B, Eminem, and more. Attendees anticipated an incredible experience, but instead, many were met with the terror of sexual assault.
Teen Vogue released an article where they interviewed 54 women, all of whom reported having experienced a form of sexual harassment. Many made accusations of being groped from behind while others made claims of rape and sexual assault.
Many women believe that because of the way they choose to dress, men feel entitled to harass, assault and terrorize them. Teen Vogue reveals that the reports expose “patterns of predatory behavioral harassers” (Teen Vogue).
One survey found that over 90 percent of women had been sexually harassed at a music festival. More women are coming forward and exposing their experiences of being violated by strangers during an event that is meant to be fun. Women have stated that in order to try and avoid these traumatizing experiences, they often must travel in pacts to stay safe.
Unfortunately, sexual harassment and assault is not only common at musical festivals, but has become a full blown epidemic. What is meant to be a joyous occasion, is turned into a factory for fear. In 2015, a photo of a Coachella attendee wearing a shirt that read “Eat Sleep Rape Repeat” went viral, symbolizing the terrifying rape culture that plagues music festivals across the globe.
Despite the #MeToo movement, reported harassment and rape is still extremely prevalent in the festival culture. A musical festival is an opportunity for all people to “seek freedom and shed their inhibitions” said a Glamour article.
Instead, women are forced to keep one eye on the stage and the other on the creep standing too close behind her. The large crowds wonderful setting, and carefree nature of attendees, is meant to provoke feelings of openness and community, but harassers have decided that it is rather an invitation to violate strangers.
The sense of community in musical festivals has been dissipated, and integrated into the music scene is rather a culture of rape and harassment. It is upsetting that the place where one can liberate themselves from the uniformity and horrors of daily life, has been infected with the very rape culture that has surrounded society.
The social dynamics have shifted and even more unsettling is music festivals inability to address the darkness that plagues their events. Following the release of Teen Vogue’s article that discussed the unbelievable harassment that occurred at Coachella, the music festival remained silent.
Festival organizers must begin to acknowledge the issue at hand and change must happen from within the culture itself. People now fear the prospect of attending a music festival, with sophomore at Yorba Linda High School, Jayden Hawley, voicing these concerns when she said, “I once really wanted to attend Coachella, but now I fear for my safety at one of these events.”
Attendees are entitled to feel protected and festivals must return to their roots as a safe place where people can eat, laugh, take photos and most importantly, appreciate music.